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Out of the Black Shadows

Stephen Lungu and Anne Coomes


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Out of the Black Shadows

Stephen Lungu and Anne Coomes



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Stephen Lungu was the oldest son of a teenage mother, married off to a much older man by her parents, and living in a black township near Salisbury, Zimbabwe. When he was seven his mother ran away, leaving him, and his younger brother and sister, in the reluctant care of an aunt. By eleven Stephen too had run away, preferring life on the streets.

To survive, he slept under bridges and scavenged food from white folks' dustbins. As a teenager he was recruited into one of the urban gangs, called the Black Shadows, which ran a programme of theft and thuggery with a half-focused dream of revolution. When a travelling evangelist came to town, Stephen was sent to fire bomb the event, carrying his bag of bombs and mingling with the crowd.

Instead of throwing bombs he stayed to listen ... what followed was better than fiction. 

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    Out of the Black Shadows

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    Stephen Lungu and Anne Coomes

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Stephen Lungu

Stephen Lungu

Stephen Lungu was born in 1942 in Harare, Zimbabwe. He is married to Rachel Lungu. Stephen Lungu was the leader of a detachment of a dozen thugs from the gang Black Shadows which instigated riots and sowed chaos in pre-independence Zimbabwe. At seven years-old, Stephen was abandoned by his mother on the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Since then, Stephen’s growing anger had found focus in the Nationalist Youth League which advocated the violent overthrow of the white government. A beautiful young girl from Soweto in South Africa told of how Jesus had “transformed everything.” Her words resonated with an uncanny authority. She spoke about forgiveness. She spoke of a new start in life. “I suddenly felt very dirty and shabby,” Stephen recalls. Still clutching his bombs, Stephen stumbled forward to where the preacher was speaking, even though it was still in the middle of his message. Ushers tried to escort him away, but the preacher forbade them, continuing with his sermon. And there begins the story of his life journey with God.

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Overall rating

4.8 based on 5 reviews

Simply awe-inspiring!

Stephen's story had me tears over and over. First tears of sadness over the incredible hardships in his early years, but then again and again joyful tears over the *stunning* works of God is his life. Beautiful, authentic, captivating. Please read it!

Out of the Black Shadows

I had been recommended this book as an inspiring story of God’s power and grace. God is concerned with the individual, and we learn about the depths of his mercy, grace and power, through Stephen’s amazing life story. Yet, I was left with this encouraging thought on Page 278, that even if our lives seem mundane in comparison, we are assured that ‘God will use you, in no matter how small or indirect a way. Your prayers, your faithfulness in doing your bit, are all that matters’.


Out of the Black Shadows

Admittingly, I was a bit weary of this book based solely on its cover. However, do not let the cover deter you. Once you start reading this, you will not be able to put it down! Stephen’s story is so deeply extraordinary. One of the taglines on the back of the book states that ‘what followed was better than fiction.’ This tagline could not have been truer. I was deeply moved by the ways that the Lord weaved together Stephen’s life so beautifully and intricately! There were moments that I felt truly convicted in Stephen’s story. He had not even been a Christian for 24 hours and did not even know any in–depth parts of the gospel but he was already out evangelising and being incredibly effective! This is an incredible memoir that not only highlights the incredible conversion of one man, but it is a beautiful reminder of the many missionaries and evangelists that work quietly and humbly throughout many difficult parts of the world and how we need to partner with them in prayer, as the Lord can do incredible things when the body of Christ works together as a whole.

Sarah Perkins

Out of the Black Shadows

Stephen was a street boy and gang member in Zimbabwe and was converted at a Tent Meeting run by the Dorothea Mission. He knew nothing of Jesus, except that He had saved him and he told everybody! On buses, in the streets, everywhere! What I like about this book, though, is his honesty in how hard it was in the early days to know what to do, how to behave and how hard he found being discipled! He was discipled firstly by Hannes Joubert who taught him table manners, house rules, basic hygiene as well as how to read & write and then preach the gospel. This was followed by quite rigorous discipleship training under Patrick Johnstone who, knowing the young man’s potential, trained him hard. Stephen himself is an evangelist through and through and that is his passion. No matter where he was or what he was doing, it was the story of his Saviour which he told. Interestingly, when he was on International Missions, he found it frustrating the length of time spent singing, etc. at the meetings before they got down to the preaching! Very readable, encouraging as well as challenging in places, highly recommended.

Fiona Talbot

Out of the Black Shadows

I got this book for Easter from my parents on 10 of those and it’s really good and keeps you hanging on every word. I would recommend for 10+. The good thing about it is it is an interesting story whilst carrying a strong spiritual message.

Sophie Thomas

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